If you’re reading this, it’s very possible that you…
- Just found out you’re pregnant.
- Just brought a new baby home from the hospital.
- Know a family member or friend that just had a baby.
In any case, I want to say congratulations! I am so thrilled for you! As a father myself, I know how precious this time in your life is.
So special, in fact, that I created a little video with some of my thoughts regarding my own children. Watch it below…
On another note, it’s possible that you’re also reading this post because you have a dog at home and you’re worried about how to introduce your dog safely to your new baby.
I know firsthand that this transition can be scary or worrisome.
As both a father and a dog owner, I know that, with a little instruction and advice, it’s easy to help your new baby and your furbaby start off on the right foot and develop a beautiful relationship.
To make the transition smooth and easy, here’s what I recommend…
Acknowledge That Your Dog Can Sense the Presence of a New Baby
I think the first thing to point out is that even before the baby turns up in the house, your dog will know that you are pregnant.
In fact, I have actually worked with somebody that knew she was pregnant because their dog started to do a behavior that the dog only did during her last pregnancy.
When the dog started to do the funny behavior again, she had a pretty good feeling that she was pregnant even before seeing a doctor or taking a test.
If you’re expecting, please know that your dog will eventually pick up on it. And once your dog knows, he might start exhibiting some unusual behaviors.
I also want you to rest assured that, when you come home with your new baby, your dog will instinctively know that it’s a new member of your pack.
For this reason, it’s likely that your dog will treat the baby in a very special way, as a loving member of the pack.
Establish a Calm Energy in Your Home
The first major thing I want to point out is energy levels.
It’s very important that your energy is very calm when introducing a dog to a new baby.
This might mean that you have to take many different steps, like starting with the dog outside or putting him on a leash while meeting the baby.
Once your dog learns to stay calm in the situation, you can let him freely meet the new family member.
The aim here is to show your dog that the baby is not a problem and that there is no drama. If you remain calm then you’ll achieve that goal.
The whole point of establishing a calm energy is to show your dog how you want him to behave.
If you want your dog to behave calmly, then you need to act calmly.
If you want your dog to respect space, then you need to put him on a lead and keep him at a little distance.
What I’m saying here is, don’t set your dog up to fail by letting him off the leash and letting him run around the room all crazy.
The initial meeting is very important, and it’s your job to set the tone for that meeting.
Keep Your Own Energy Calm
It’s one thing to ask a dog to be calm.
It’s another thing to keep yourself calm while your dog is around–especially if you have a screaming baby.
While having a new baby can be a stressful transition, the last thing you want is to be stressed and screaming and shouting all the time when the baby is around.
Your dog will pick up on that stress and become stressed as well.
In this situation, it’s important to lead by example. Stay calm. Take a deep breath. Settle your body movements.
Do this and your dog should follow suit.
Be Aware of Your Child’s Age and Level of Mobility
Bringing home a new baby doesn’t always mean you’ll be bringing home an infant.
For those that adopt, this could mean bringing home a mobile toddler into your home.
This can be really difficult for your dog. Here’s why…
A brand-new baby is certainly a change. But new babies don’t do much. They can’t crawl around and harass your dog.
However, a mobile toddler who likes to chase, pull hair and ears, and grab at dogs can be really scary–especially for a small dog who is already fearful.
We all know that a scared dog can easily resort to biting or scratching, which isn’t safe for your new addition.
If you’re in a situation where you’re introducing a toddler, my advice is to take it slow. Make sure your baby isn’t left alone with the dog, and monitor the interaction.
You can also teach your toddler to be gentle and give a dog space.
That being said, if you do have a brand-new baby, you’re at a bit of an advantage.
After all, your dog has a least a few months to get to know this little new baby and fall in love with him or her. Over these months, your dog will learn your baby’s smell and will realize that the baby doesn’t pose a threat.
During this time, your dog can form a bond with your baby and will become far more tolerant of your baby as he/she starts to grow up.
Be Mindful of Setting Your Dog Up to Win and Use Precautions
As a dog trainer, I firmly believe that it’s important to always set your dog up to win.
For this reason, I suggest setting up baby gates and practicing separation from your dog.
You don’t always need your dog in the same room as your baby. And, at the same time, your dog doesn’t always need to be hovering over you.
Using a gate allows your dog to be present without having to always be on top of you.
Using this method will help keep your baby safe from accidents that might occur–like a dog accidently lying or jumping on top of the baby.
Reward Your Dog for Good Behavior
The final thing I suggest is, when your baby does come, always reward your dog when he exhibits good behavior.
Keep taking your dog for walks.
Make sure you reward your dog and give him pats and cuddles and lots of love and attention.
It’s important that your dog understands that he is still loved and is not doing anything wrong. He needs to know that he will still get attention; however, around the baby, he still needs to remain calm.
Aside from what we’ve already talked about, there are other things that you can start implementing today to make the transition of adding a new human family member to your family easier when you have a dog.
To help you out even further, or if you jumped to the very bottom to grab your special gift, here it is… 🙂
It’s the first 5 Chapters for FREE of my book called “What the Dogs Taught Me About Being a Parent”, published by Random House in 2013 and selling on Amazon…
It’s been a huge success, and I know you’ll enjoy it.
I even know of people without dogs or kids who have loved it!!!